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Environment

More than 600 divers scooped up trash from the ocean floor off a South Florida beach, setting a Guinness World Records milestone for largest underwater cleanup.

NOAA: 279 Dolphins Dead On Gulf Coast, Triple Usual Number

Jun 15, 2019
A dolphin covered in oil from the 201BP oil spill swims through Bay Jimmy in Northern Barataria Bay, Louisiana.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

At least 279 dolphins have stranded across much of the U.S. Gulf Coast since Feb. 1, triple the usual number, and about 98 percent of them have died, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration is declaring an unusual mortality event for bottlenose dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico, ranging from Franklin County, Florida to Louisiana. 

In the wake of last summer’s worst blue-green algae outbreak in Florida’s history, water management continues to be at the forefront of conversation in Florida. Now the state’s newly founded Blue-Green Algae Task Force has convened it’s first meeting. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law Wednesday that will allow insurance companies to offer incentives to patients who use a database to find lower-cost healthcare services.

A summertime Gulf of Mexico dead zone fueled by pollution flowing out of the Mississippi River watershed could be among the largest on record this year.

The red tide on Florida's Gulf Coast last year killed dolphins, manatees and fish. A new study finds the toxic algae also affects stone crab, one of Florida's most valuable seafood products.

Federal officials are giving the state of Florida $40 Million to help restore timber in the Caloosahatchee Forest.
Florida Forestry Service

Gov. Ron DeSantis says nearly half a billion dollars from the federal government will help Florida timber growers recover from the impacts of Hurricane Michael.

Angel Portillo doesn't think about climate change much. It's not that he doesn't care. He just has other things to worry about. Climate change seems so far away, so big.

Lately though, Portillo says he has been thinking about it more often.

Standing on the banks of a swollen and surging Arkansas River, just upriver from a cluster of flooded businesses and homes, it's easy to see why.

"Stuff like this," he says, nodding at the frothy brown waters, "all of the tornadoes that have been happening — it just doesn't seem like a coincidence, you know?"

Two reptiles sit side by side.
Wikimedia Commons

Hundreds of reptiles will be slithering into the Florida State Fairgrounds this weekend.

Leopard geckos, boa constrictors, and ball pythons are among the creatures guests can expect to see at Repticon. Reptiles will be sold at the event, but organizers urge people to think carefully before selecting one as a pet.

Florida Had Hottest May In More Than A Century

Jun 7, 2019

If last month felt hotter than normal, there's a reason. 

Hurricane Impact On Fish Spurs Emergency Order

Jun 6, 2019

Hurricane Michael’s impact on shoal bass in the Chipola River and its tributaries drew a state emergency order Wednesday against harvesting the freshwater fish. 

Power Plant at Dusk
Lakeland Electric

Lakeland Electric is going to need more power later this month, after it brings down its sole coal-powered plant for repairs.

Spokesman Chris Neal said, "We normally don't schedule that kind of maintenance for the summer months, because, as you know, people run their air conditioners and demand is high, but it was a special circumstance where we had to bring that unit down for a few days."

Carnival Cruise Line agreed to cut its disposable plastic use in half across its entire fleet by 2021 under a plea agreement entered in Miami federal court Monday.

It’s almost six months into Gov. Ron DeSantis’s first term, and the biggest shift from the Rick Scott administration has been his focus on the environment.

When Bill Galvano became the leader of the Florida Senate, he made it clear that his top priority was building new roads.

In January, weeks before the start of the legislative session, Galvano called for three new roads. He called them corridors. Lawmakers and Governor Ron DeSantis agreed with Galvano and now the state’s biggest road project in 50 years is moving forward.

With the expansion comes concerns about the potential environmental impact, along with the additional stress motorists will endure during construction.

Algae forms on top of a body of water.
Wikimedia Commons

It’s 95 degrees. Sunscreen and sweat drips from your forehead. You do a cannonball into a lake to cool off and are greeted by a thick coat of blue-green algae.

This is the scenario Florida’s environmental specialists are trying to prevent by enacting fertilizer restrictions.

A federal appeals court has ruled that the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers is not entitled to damages from BP for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Flckr

The unofficial start of summer feels more like its blistering peak in parts of the Deep South, where temperatures at or near 100 degrees are setting heat records during the Memorial Day weekend.

Heat and humidity were forecast to combine for a dangerous heat index of 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.56 Celsius) on Sunday across roughly 20 counties in southeastern Georgia and South Carolina, said Emily McGraw, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Charleston, South Carolina.

When Hurricane Irma made landfall in South Florida nearly two years ago, it knocked out power across the region — in some areas for up to 10 days. A dozen people in the Rehabilitation Center At Hollywood Hills died after the storm, due to heat-related issues from lack of air-conditioning.

New federal limits for dangerous toxins linked to blue green algae in water where people swim, boat and fish could help Florida fight the dangerous blooms.

The recommended criteria is the first ever set by the Environmental Protection Agency for two common toxins found in algae caused by cyanobacteria and would need to be adopted by Florida. But environmentalists say there's a problem: the limits are double what was originally proposed in 2016.

Everglades
National Park Service

It was a mixed bag for environmentalists in the wake of this year's legislative session in Tallahassee. Lawmakers allocated more money than Governor Ron DeSantis asked for on Everglades restoration and fighting red tide and blue-green algae.

But there were some drawbacks, including a bill to build three new toll roads and getting a fraction of the money the governor proposed to buy environmentally sensitive lands.

WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with Jennifer Rubiello, state director for Environment Florida - starting with the good that happened.

Mango season is nearly upon us, that annual ritual of pungent juices dripping onto the chin, of begging friends and family for a spare fruit or two, of driving slowly along back streets to check out that one tree that drops fruit right on the side of the road that you’ve been thinking about since this time last year.

And all this time, you might be asking yourself, "How can I get in on the mango action without avoiding the middlemen? If I live in a condo, can I grow my own mango tree?"

Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez
Alejandra Martinez / WLRN

State lawmakers passed several bills in the wake of last year's scourge of red tide attacking the coastlines and blue-green algae coming out of Lake Okeechobee. But some environmentalists say they didn't address the source of the problem - nutrients flowing into waterways.

Straws
Flickr

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a controversial bill Friday that would have restricted the right of local governments - including St. Petersburg - to regulate single-use plastic straws.

Following a closed-door meeting with federal, state and local agencies on harmful algal blooms, Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney held a second roundtable meeting Friday that was open to the media and the public.

A woman crouches on a beach searching for plastic pellets called nurdles
Kerry Sheridan / WUSF

Plastic pollution is a growing problem in the world's oceans. A new citizen science initiative, called the Nurdle Patrol, is tracking a danger to marine life that is washing ashore by the millions across the Gulf of Mexico.

They're called nurdles. And what's that exactly?

Kathy Castor
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would keep the U.S. in the Paris Climate agreement. But the bill, which was sponsored by a Tampa representative, may not go much further than the House.

Hatching loggerhead sea turtle
Longboat Key Turtle Watch

Loggerhead sea turtles spend most of their lives in the open ocean or shallow coastal waters, but soon thousands of female sea turtles will come ashore to begin their annual rite of spring.

May 1 marks the beginning of sea turtle nesting season on Florida's Gulf Coast.

Plastic trash
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The death of a baby dolphin over the weekend off Fort Myers Beach may have been caused by plastic that filled its stomach. The news comes at the same time moves by cities to ban single-use plastics may be killed by state lawmakers.

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